Manifesto. Draft 84

I cannot tell you what you will find here. I cannot tell you what meaning you should expect to take away from this work. I cannot prove that it will be worth your time. All these tasks are beyond my skill, my comfort, and my responsibility. I can only tell you what I found. I can tell you what it's meant to me. And I can tell you that for me it has been time well spent. 

What I've found is struggle. Everyday I face a blank canvas on Scrivener that passive aggressively comments on my inability to create written work that I was proud of. I look at my chain of how many days in a row I've sat down to write and notice I missed the last 8 weeks. 

For me, this work has meant succumbing to a perpetual cycle of hopeful inspiration that maybe this next thing would be a hit, dashed by an inevitable existential crisis when things don't turn out how I imagined. This work is a reflection of me, of my heart and sometimes mind. But post after post as I attempted to make something of use to the world I found myself not liking what was reflected. Every time I pressed publish I felt terrible fear that I might have missed something or held something back and that I'd soon be outed as a disingenuous fraud. That fear kept me from pressing publish very often, and still does. 

Anytime I publish I'm giving a snapshot of the person I am at that point in time. That snapshot is static even though I am not. I am never who I used to be. My thoughts, my views, my personality, my goals, they all change. If I'm the same person at 27 as I was at 25, then 26 was a boring age. Still, what I pressed publish on at 25 will live on, and if it's a hit, that will be someone's thin slice impression of me. To say nothing of my hypothetical future grandchildren. In any case, I've made the best decisions I can with the information that I have at the time throughout my life. I have tried to engage myself in productive efforts that will make my life more meaningful to the world. 

This work is primarily for myself. All art is self indulgence. It has to be that way. I have to go inside, find what's there, and have the heart to bring it up for presentation. Anything less would be generic propaganda. What's written here I wrote alone in a room, with complete freedom and privacy, and no one to judge me. Given that environment I was often emboldened to share far more than I conceivably would have had anyone been present. I would never admit any of this in person. 

For the purposes of ensuring my fifth amendment rights pursuant to the United States Constitution and avoiding conviction by any foreign governments whose agents I come into contact with at various border crossings let me make clear that this site is a fictional work of literature, any similarity in my stories to real life locations, events, people is coincidence. Any claims of illegal behavior are lies being told in service of this art and the artists compelling need to create provocative content to compete in a world populated almost exclusively by individuals with far more interesting stories and literary talent than myself. 

Why write it? Why share it? Because of the life I lead. I am the lucky one. I made it. I live a life with historically unprecedented levels of freedom. I am an American citizen, in the 21st century, with a passport, and an American Express Gold card. I am in relatively good health, my body works as one might hope. I own a company that doesn't require me to show up to work; the only geographic tether I have is needing to have access to the internet a few times per week (or month). I am also a white male. The world is an unbroken hallway of open doors for me. 

It's not like it was an easy road though. My origin story is one of severe (but not extreme) poverty, strict religious indoctrination, and a culture where anywhere that wasn't my hometown was viewed with suspicion and contempt. I entered my adult life with no money, no connections, and no real plan except that I'd go out into the world, away from my home, and make something of myself. I left home at 18 and have been on my own ever since, truly I did it on my own. 

That's not to discount the help I've had along the way. A full accounting of the help other people have given me would reveal me to be a helpless, neurotic, dunce. But all of them, all of those characters that I've met along the way, all of the friends and allies that I've found or have found me, happened because I made it happen. Because I put my pants on, walked out into the world, and made it happen.

My hope is that this work will mean something to you. That it will provide inspiration, or comfort, or a challenge, or be an invitation to collaborate, or sustain you on your own journey when times get tough But if it doesn't do any of that that's OK, it's already meant enough to me. 

Jordan Laubaugh
March 11, 2018 | Bangkok, Thailand